Trip Report
A SLICK ROCK Adventure in Idaho with a single Blue Camalot Belay.
Friday August 21, 2015 4:18pm
Slick Rock, just east of McCall Idaho, is a huge glaciated granite slab at an enticing angle. It is about 1200 feet high, but reposes gracefully between 50 to 70 degrees, with a few areas that approach vertical. A bold leader, not worried about falling, can go just about anywhere on Slick Rock’s clean polished granite.

As of 4/17/2019 Supertopo management has deleted all my photos from this & my other stories.

However! Tom Lopez hosts 3 of my best climbing stories on his website for his fine book “Idaho A Climbing Guide.” This story is one of the lucky three to survive there with photos. https://www.idahoaclimbingguide.com/contributors/ray-brooks/


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I first climbed the 5.6 Regular Route aka Three Cracks route on Slick Rock in Oct. of 1972. I ended up climbing it at least 5 other times, and also helped to pioneer three other harder routes on Slick Rock. I had last climbed the route in 1985 with a girlfriend. Mark Mason has also climbed it numerous times and we both thought of it as long (11 leads with a 45 meter rope), but fun, 5.6 route. It seemed just right for us to finally climb again, since Mark had also not climbed it since the early 1980's.

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SLICK ROCK 8/19/15 Regular Route, aka Three Cracks route. Ray Brooks, aka Fritz & Mark Mason

There are currently two large forest fires burning near McCall, but otherwise the weather was perfect, with morning temps in the 40's F. range and afternoon temps in the mid-70's F.

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OVERALL, the Three Cracks route was more difficult, harder to protect, & way more run-out, than in our memories of 30 plus years ago, when we thought of it as an “easy” route, that we dragged novice climbers & girlfriends up. We now strongly suspect that in our 60’s, we are not as tough or capable as we were in our 20’s & 30’s. I also believe that our memories of the run-out un-protectable sections were suppressed, since they were not “pleasant memories. ”

Mark was a great partner on the route. He carried a pack with our trail shoes, water, lunches, 1st aid kit, and much other crap, up the climb, and was always encouraging. He also belayed me perfectly and gave me lots of slack rope, and an occasional tight rope when I needed it.


An adventure summary of our climb, with Mark’s 70 meter rope. All our previous ascents had been on 45 meter ropes, so it was a “game-changer.”

Pitch 1 Left facing corner/open book, well protected 5.5 -5.6 to a large ledge that I recall had a decent crack for a belay. Variation 1A on my 1982 topo. A belay crack was not found & I wandered up & right across un-protectable 5.0- 5.5 slab for 100 ft. or so, to a two-bolt belay. (I think our earlier routes went up "run-out" steeper slabs to some cracks & tree belays.)
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Pitch 2: Easy climbing up & right over many big semi-loose, but currently stable, blocks to a tree-belay. (I missed a two-bolt belay 20 feet lower.)

Pitch 3: Easy climbing, with no protection, back along the upper edge of a huge downward trending crack, then up towards the first crack.

Pitch 4: Slightly more difficult climbing up towards first crack.
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Pitch 5: Up first crack, which was fun climbing with good protection.

Pitch 6: From high in the first crack, I scuttled across to the second crack and stepped in (I nearly jumped). The second crack is mostly a 12-18” wide groove with occasional spots for protection. Techniques used were mostly chimney & off-width variations. 5.7 Crux, where the crack ends, for about 10' & I belayed a little ways above that.

Although I had a great crack for belay anchors, the only pro I had left, that fit, was a blue Camalot, that I backed up with a wedged carabiner, for that all important “two pieces of protection, psychological” belay.

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When Mark came up, I had him place another cam for a safer belay anchor, & I was good to go.

Pitch 7: I soon stepped across to the 3rd crack and found it mostly pleasant lay-backing with an occasional more difficult spot. I climbed to what I believe is named “Lunch Ledge” at the top of the 3rd crack. This was where the original 1967 first ascent party spent a while, until my friend Harry Bowron boldly led on.

After bringing Mark up, I looked up & could see absolutely no cracks for protection, just difficult looking run-out ground (Please remember I have climbed this route numerous times and considered it "easy".)

Pitch 8: Meanwhile two pleasant Washington State U. students had just passed us on the closely adjacent 5.8+ Memorial Route, which is a well-bolted Sport Route. It was so logical & easy to step across to a bolt on it & then to follow that route up 4 bolts & some 5.8 climbing to a 2-bolt belay, which was the only short lead on our route.

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Pitch 9 followed the bolt route for two more bolts, then I could not see more bolts, or any nearby cracks to the left, in a hundred foot high blank slab, that ended in a vertical headwall. The other climbers had not found any bolts in that section either.

I told Mark I was going back left to the original route, but he talked me into following the line of no bolts. I traversed right on run-out 5.4-5.6 that had unfortunate occasional sandy spots. I became very aware that If I slipped badly on the impossible to see sand, I was going to take a 100' fall. I eventually reached a large un-protectable crack that provided all-important handholds and diagonaled back left to a large crack that led upward, that I could protect. Then I traversed left under a steeper area and reached the top.

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The Stats: Roped climbing time about 7 hours (for us). We descended climber's left of Slickrock, which appears to be longer, but safer than the now more popular climber's right descent route.. It was a "somewhat" safe descent, but we suffered heavy vegetation & no trail, on the lower 1/3. Top to car 1 1/2 hrs.

Any areas on my bare legs that were not abraded on the ascent were scarred on the descent.

Car to car 10 hours.

Our new rating for the route is 5.7 R with the R for "Runout."

It was a Big Day for a Geezer!










  Trip Report Views: 3,432
Fritz
About the Author
Fritz is a trad climber from Choss Creek, ID.

Comments
crankster

Trad climber
No. Tahoe
  Aug 21, 2015 - 04:26pm PT
Looks like great fun. Love that jammed biner...and Mark's old-school helmet. I remember them well.
NutAgain!

Trad climber
https://nutagain.org
  Aug 21, 2015 - 04:34pm PT
Good job for getting out there and getting it done! Looks like a fun day.
Captain...or Skully

climber
Boise, ID
  Aug 21, 2015 - 06:35pm PT
No huckleberries in the gully?....good TR, Ray.... Slick Rock is good clean fun. I'm not sure WHY it's called "Slick" though...the friction is outlandish. TFPU!!!!!
I never saw no summit register....but didn't look for one, either.
11worth

Trad climber
Leavenworth & Greenwater WA
  Aug 21, 2015 - 05:24pm PT
Nice report Ray
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 21, 2015 - 05:36pm PT
Nice fritz, Donini would approve of the blue camalot belay!!!!
rick sumner

Trad climber
reno, nevada/ wasilla alaska
  Aug 21, 2015 - 05:49pm PT
looks like a grand day Fritz. Beautiful rock up there in Idaho, might just have to take a drive up. I know how you feel repeating "easy" routes from your youth.
Studly

Trad climber
WA
  Aug 21, 2015 - 06:00pm PT
Very cool. Thanks for taking us along!
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
  Aug 21, 2015 - 06:25pm PT
Sweet.

Demerits for not smoking the herb.
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Republic, WA
  Aug 21, 2015 - 08:36pm PT
Sweet! Gunna hafta dewwit.
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Aug 21, 2015 - 08:54pm PT
Wow Fritz, that's a great day out! Great TR. Thanks! Phyl
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Aug 21, 2015 - 09:49pm PT
looks good to me
Ghoulwe

Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
  Aug 21, 2015 - 10:11pm PT
Nice write-up Fritz! I climbed the Memorial Route on the right side a couple of years ago - good fun in a great setting. We rappelled the route and I have to say it seemed a lot more favorable than hiking down either side of the dome. We had a nice time camping back there too.

Eric Barrett
Ghoulwe Mountaineering Club
Spokane WA
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Aug 22, 2015 - 06:59am PT
Great. Report. I had never heard of slick rock before.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Aug 22, 2015 - 07:12am PT
My kinda place
mcreel

climber
Barcelona
  Aug 22, 2015 - 07:39am PT
Good job! I'm jealous. Slick Rock sounds like a nice destination.
Captain...or Skully

climber
Boise, ID
  Aug 22, 2015 - 08:17am PT
It's a fun spot, but I dunno if I'd call Slick Rock a "destination". That said, the whole area has potential.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Aug 22, 2015 - 11:52am PT
Great account of a fine outing by my two intrepid friends from Idaho! Well done lads!
You might consider that what was considered 5.6 lo those many years ago might have a different number affixed to it today.
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Aug 22, 2015 - 11:33am PT
Thanks all for the great comments. After I shared the above report with a McCall friend who climbed the 3 Cracks route on Slick Rock this spring, he gave me this beta for the last two pitches that we avoided some of by going onto the bolted sport route.

From the Lunch Shelf, I head up a thin seam about 30'. Little or no pro. There you will find a series of undercling flakes leading up and slightly left. The flakes offer good protection underneath. It's about a pitch and a half to the top

Currently rather smoky in Idaho, and the two large fires near McCall are getting larger.
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
  Aug 22, 2015 - 11:48am PT
Kick-ass Fritz!
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Aug 22, 2015 - 07:24pm PT
Thanks again for your fun comments! My calf muscles have been so stiff the last three days, that it hurts to walk. It was a "suffer-fest" to mow our lawn yesterday.

Meanwhile, at age 72, Donini does 20 mile days with 7,000' gain.

I need to "toughen-up!"
BrassNuts

Trad climber
Save your a_s, reach for the brass...
  Aug 22, 2015 - 07:48pm PT
Looks like fun, thanks for sharing the story and info :-)
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
  Aug 22, 2015 - 08:24pm PT
Sweet!

GT Rider, We gotta pick this one off.
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Aug 22, 2015 - 08:35pm PT
Spider! Glad to see you are interested in suffering on Slick Rock! Contact Mark (if you don't have his email, contact me) for local beta.
Captain...or Skully

climber
Boise, ID
  Aug 22, 2015 - 09:04pm PT
Plus, if you catch me while I'm in range, I'll climb it with you, Spider..or just pitch beta.I've climbed 3 routes there, so far. It's a fun rock.
I really love that on the 3 crack route, just climb to the end of the rope and there is a possible belay, every pitch. So sweet.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Aug 22, 2015 - 09:21pm PT
Slick, Slick.

Thanks for the beta on wearin' pants. I take a blood thinner.

And yer right about donini, who would've lapped you guys at least once before he stopped to take a pee.
TWP

Trad climber
Mancos, CO & Bend, OR
  Aug 22, 2015 - 10:27pm PT
Good show old man! Makes one proud of his fellow geezer. Am riding Amtrak as I write. Going to attend uncle's funeral (aged 99. So by comparison, we're doing great! Or we will if we last that long. Keep it up.
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Aug 23, 2015 - 09:31am PT
Here's a Google Earth shot of Slick Rock that shows it quite nicely. It measures 900' high on their program.

yanqui

climber
Balcarce, Argentina
  Aug 23, 2015 - 10:20am PT
Drove past McCall a number of times going back and forth from Salt Lake City to Spokane and never knew about Slick Rock. Very interesting.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
  Aug 23, 2015 - 10:22am PT
Looks like fun Ray!!!

Hey, did you just out yourself??? ;)

Tell Mark and Heidi I said hello.
hobo_dan

Social climber
Minnesota
  Aug 23, 2015 - 10:51am PT
Way to get after it!!
crunch

Social climber
CO
  Aug 23, 2015 - 11:57am PT
Excellent! That Slickrock is a beautiful place to climb. That Triple Cracks is only rated 5.6 yet the "5.8" just right (we started up this line, intending to do a new route, carrying a power drill, only to discover the line of fresh bolts!) felt easier, for sure!

Gotta go back one day....thanks for the reminder!
L

climber
Just livin' the dream
  Aug 23, 2015 - 01:44pm PT
Loved this, Fritz!

Thanks for the great photos and laughs.
Mark Force

Trad climber
Ashland, Oregon
  Aug 23, 2015 - 08:00pm PT
Nice day out, Ray! Thanks for the report. Would love to have you show me the place when I get out there next year.

It's all about staying with it and getting out.
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Aug 30, 2015 - 01:35pm PT
Thanks again for your much-appreciated comments.

Ten days after the climb, my lacerated & abraded calves are about healed. I took these photos yesterday.
crunch

Social climber
CO
  Aug 30, 2015 - 01:58pm PT
Yikes! "tetanus shot up-to-date?" lol!
Captain...or Skully

climber
Boise, ID
  Aug 30, 2015 - 02:03pm PT
Geez Louise.....bushwhack much?
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Republic, WA
  Aug 30, 2015 - 04:02pm PT
Nice "stick bites" on the calves, Ray.
john bald

climber
  Aug 30, 2015 - 06:45pm PT
Well done Fritz!
Hope to get up there once the smoke clears.
Worked out of McCall in my youth, need a reason to get back there.

Just remember that the memories will last a lot longer than any scratches you endured.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Aug 31, 2015 - 09:12am PT
Whoa!!! Geezer awesomeness alert!! Well done chaps!

See any prehistoric babes up there??




And it wasn't a single blue Camalot belay, it was backed up by a bomber biner jam!!
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  May 17, 2019 - 12:47pm PT
As of 4/17/2019 Supertopo management has deleted all my photos from this & my other stories.

However! Tom Lopez hosts 3 of my best climbing stories on his website for his fine book “Idaho A Climbing Guide.” This story is one of the lucky three to survive there with photos. https://www.idahoaclimbingguide.com/contributors/ray-brooks/


Although I had a great crack for belay anchors, the only pro I had left, that fit, was a blue Camalot, that I backed up with a wedged carabiner, for that all important “two pieces of protection, psychological” belay.

And of course, if somehow that blue Camalot & the jammed biner failed, I had two decent pieces of pro in just below the crux, only 35 or so feet below me.

Thanks for your support folks! Ray Brooks
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